TURA, Jan 03: Bangsi Apal, near Dainadubi in North Garo Hills, on Tuesday was the destination to be at Garo Hills, with more than 10,000 people gathering for Song Krittan – a dance form unique to the Garo tribe. The open dance form heralds the ends of Christmas celebrations every year in the region with the tradition now being centuries old.
Song Kristan is unique to the Garo tribe and is a group celebration form to worship and praise the Almighty. The group celebrations include the beating of drums, cymbals and flute accompanied by songs and dance of tradition. The form of celebration began in North Garo Hills before moving to other parts of the Garo Hills region and has continued till date.
“While we were Songsareks (pagans), we only had the Wangala and devotional songs (kirtan) performed to our Gods but later when we joined Christianity, the celebration form evolved to what is now known as Song Kristan to praise the Almighty after conversion to Christianity,” said a resident of North Garo Hills.
‘Song Kristan’ borrows itself from the word Kirtan which is a form of religious performance, connoting a musical form of narration or shared recitation, particularly of spiritual or religious ideas. Early Songsareks were inspired by neighboruing Assam based Hindus performing ‘Kirtan’ and caught on with the tradition, more than a century ago. This later evolved into the form that is seen today.
“Traditionally, we welcome the Christmas season about a month before it is due with children and grown-ups doing rounds of Song Krittan near their villages. While there have been competitions now set up to see the best groups, the one in Bangsi Apal is completely open – meaning any group can come and be a part of the tradition,” said a resident of Dainadubi, CR Marak.
Tuesday’s event was managed by the 2nd Jan Dance Management Committee which consists of Nokmas and Sordars of neighbouring villages.
“People have come from places that are more than 10 kms away, including Wageasi, Nishangram, Damra, to be a part of this celebration. They dance and sing throughout their journey to the destination and the energy continues when they get here,” said one of the organizers.
“The energy around is electric and anyone that comes here wants to put on their dancing shoes. Nobody is judging you for your level of skill. You just have to be there and just let go,” added BD Sangma, a resident of Tura in WGH, who came to the venue to be a part of the program.
The event started at 11 am and continued till about 6 pm with not one moment going by without singing and dancing by cheerful revelers.
“This is a unique tradition and needs to have been promoted into the tourism calendar. Unfortunately that has not been done and something as unique as this is being sidelined. Hope the government gives the event its due,” said another local resident, Anthony Marak.